Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained to the ministry during the peaceeful days before the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, and eventually saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312, and the Edict of Milan in 313, which made Christianity legal in the Empire for the first time in centuries. Two years later he became Bishop of Rome, a position held for 24 years until his death in 335.
The Council of Nicaea took place during his papal ministry (325), but he didn’t attend because of his advanced age. He sent his legates in his place, but ultimately it was his “sign-off” on the Nicene Creed that was critical for Western acceptance. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st.
Sylvester saw so much change: Peaceful days, heavy persecution, Constantine’s triumph, church freedom and prestige, ecumenical councils, and the move of the Empire’s center from his home town to the east. How I wish I could have a cup of coffee with him, and hear all of those stories.